Is Your Company’s ‘Body Language’ Crippling Your Marketing Message?

by Jennifer Beever, Marketing Consultant
Copyright New Incite, All Rights Reserved

You’ve created the best marketing plan possible based on extensive research, input from experts, and ideas from the most creative minds. You’ve begun to implement the plan, knowing that successful execution of business plans is critical. So, how could you not get the most favorable return on your marketing investment?

Failure to communicate strategy and tactics to your company’s stakeholders, especially employees and supplier or vendor partners, can negatively impact marketing results. When a prospect becomes a customer, there are many points of contact beyond the sales transaction between the buyer and vendor. The product is shipped or the service is delivered. Customer service is called. Accounts receivable gets involved and receives questions from the customer. Technicians provide service. If marketing generates one message, and the other points of contact in your company project other messages, your marketing message and perhaps your strategy will be diluted.

According to Dr. Anders Gronstedt, author of The Customer Century (Routledge, 2000), “Finance, operations, or customer service .handle the communication that really matters to consumers. They represent the ‘body language’ of the company., while. marketing and communications. represent the ‘spoken word.'” How can you make sure your company’s body language matches the spoken word of marketing and communications?

Companies need to encourage communication, formal and informal, between departments and between hierarchical levels of the organization. Formal communication takes the form of a published strategy and plan, eLetters and newsletters, company bulletins, Intranets, employee surveys and more. Informal communication includes open-format company meetings, open door policies between managers and employees, and social functions.

Publishing the company strategy and plan in a booklet or laminated card and distributing it to all employees helps keep everyone on the same page. The information can be augmented by departmental meetings, in which the strategy and plan are explained. In addition, meetings between different levels of the company hierarchy should take place to ensure top-down support of communications and the strategy and plan.

ELetters, newsletters, and bulletins should be used frequently to communicate company progress against goals, departmental progress, and exemplary employee performance. Monitoring progress against strategic goals helps everyone at the company participate in the strategy’s outcomes and results, rather than focusing on outputs and expenses.

The messages in internal communications should not be limited to success stories only. Publishing information about disgruntled customers and lost sales, in addition to those about happy customers and wins, helps keep communications open and honest and invites employees to own outcomes and results and solve problems instead of becoming myopic.

Intranets are increasingly used in companies to manage information, facilitate communication, and transfer knowledge between employees, vendors, departments, and hierarchical levels of management. Online bulletin boards allow employees to post thoughts and ideas on problems and issues or communicate with upper management.

Employee surveys encourage feedback to management, but they are effective only if followed by publication of survey results and appropriate action. Surveys should allow for anonymity to encourage open communications.

All of these activities can help improve communications within a company and get everyone telling the same story. Above all, your company must support open communication – communication without reprisal for employees and managers who speak up about issues or problems. Many companies say they have an open communications policy, but they don’t walk the talk and are not successful.

The day of traditional, production-oriented companies, where marketing was solely a support function to promote the product and drive demand, are done. Now, in customer-centric companies where customer service is the orientation, marketing has another role. Marketing must also be a facilitator and driver of communication and information in the world of constantly-changing customer needs.

Author Jennifer Beever is a marketing consultant and founder of New Incite Marketing Analysis and Design. New Incite is the outsource marketing resource for growing businesses. The company provides marketing planning, implementation, results tracking and organizational development services for its clients. Contact Jennifer at 818-347-4248 or by email.

This article may be reprinted with permission of the author. Please contact Jennifer Beever at 818-347-4248 or by email for permission. Proper acknowledgement of the author, including name, company, and contact information, must be made with use.